Terrible Thursday: Captain America (1990)

Gee whiz, we gotta get going, Mr. President.

Director: Albert Pyun

Starring: Matt Salinger, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox


Synopsis: Before Captain America became a household name, he had to go through the awkward years of the 1990s. This version of Captain America tells the classic origin story. Steve Rogers wants to go off to fight in World War II but can not fight due to a medical condition (in this version polio, which seems to only manifest as a hilarious gimp). The Army brings him in for a secret experiment, gives him super powers and sends him off to fight the Nazi powers, led by Red Skull. In this version, Red Skull captures Capt. America and ties him to a rocket aimed for the White House. As our Captain is about to hit the White House, he kicks the fins of the rocket, denting them enough to send the rocket over the White House and on course to Alaska, where he crashes and is frozen in the ice. He is awakened in the 90s and after some wacky adventures in Canada goes to Italy to retrieve the President of the United States, who has been abducted by Red Skull and an environmental terrorist organization. Heroics ensue as the President and Captain America team up to save the day.

Why does it fail?: Let’s be honest, it does not take a lot of brain surgery to tell a good superhero origin story. You show our main character become the hero and send him off to complete his first task as a superhero. Write the standard heroes journey, and you’ve got yourself a movie. This version of Captain America has all of those parts, but is so unbelievably boring and awkward. Not a lot happens in this movie. Most of the time is spent with Captain America hanging out with old flames from the 1940s and mucking around Italy. Even when the action does pick up at the end, it never gets very exciting. That is a problem in the first place, but it gets compounded by the fact that Matt Salinger has absolutely no onscreen charisma. He only has two facial expressions and spends the movie mumbling barely comprehensible lines. Super hero movies are driven by the charisma of their main hero, and when you have a Captain America who is a static puppet, the movie just falls apart. Also, check out the fake rubber ears on his mask.


Should you watch it?: I can not easily recommend this movie, even to watch as a bad movie. It really is extremely boring in the second act, and only slightly picks up steam in the third. Most of the scenes during this time just meander along. The camera stays too long on characters, the lighting is flat, everybody looks bored and disinterested. And for a movie about a superhero, a shocking amount of time is spent on soap-opera love drama and family problems. Now, there are some quality moments in the movie. The scene with Captain America strapped to a rocket is wonderfully absurd to watch, especially considering that the key part of the scene is that a little boy took a picture of Captain America on the rocket and ended up being the kidnapped President. Surprise! Also, Captain America really likes to fake sick and steal people’s cars in this movie, so that is fun to watch (that A on his head might stand for another word besides America). If you are really into superhero movies and bad movies, this might be a fun one. The most interesting aspect of it is watching what a Captain America movie looked like before the golden age of Marvel movies, but beyond the historical curiosity, it really does not have much appeal.

Rating as a movie: 2/10

Rating as a bad movie: 6/10


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